We're leaving for Libya.
Libya? Where's that? Why can't we go to the States, I asked my dad. I have never heard of a place called Libya. All I knew was I don't want to leave my friends and my school. I was not ready to leave them. But, I was too young to make any decisions for the family.
A few months later, I found my self on a plane heading to Libya. The moment I set foot on Libyan soil, I knew I can't run back to the comfort of my home. It was miles away. I already miss my grandma. The only person I love and care about at that time. I didn't have a close relationship with my parents although all of us live under the same roof. I miss my grandparents and I cried everyweek especially while reading letters from my grandma. My dad got irritated with me but he never once hit me, and I'm thankful for that although I was such a difficult child.
What made it more difficult for the whole family was, we had to live in a hotel for a few weeks as the apartment was still occupied. We lived in a beautiful hotel called the Beach Hotel which was located not far from OCS (Oil Companies School). Don't ask me if it was a 5 star hotel. It wasn't. (I think it's gone now, I found out it has been turned into a shopping complex).
We then moved to the apartment in the middle of the city. I think we lived on the 4th floor. We had a great view of the city and also of the Tripoli port. We didn't have tv, so what do I do for fun? I watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor everyday. I could still see it vividly in my mine till today. I miss living there although the elevator would be out of order most of the time! Thank God we were only on the 4th floor and not the 13th. Pun intended!
Mom and dad took me around the town, by foot, going to the market to buy fish & fresh fruits. I remember dad carrying 2 huge watermelons from the market back to our apartment. Although it was summer, we didn't feel the heat as we were enjoying the walk and the view. At first, we were very cautious of walking around town as were afraid of being spied by the secret police. As you know, Libya has her own "reputation" of being notorious. But, during our 3 1/2 years there, we have never experienced such things. In fact, we enjoyed our time there. Mom and dad would love to visit Libya again.
After a few months, we shifted house again, this time we lived in Hai Andalus, Gargaresh. It easier for dad, as it's closer to the embassy and school. We lived in a villa along the main road to the Friendship village which is owned by the Oil Companies. What I love about Libyan homes is, we have ample space to move around. We can have picnics on the roof top. I had wonderful night picnics with my friends on the roof top and when were start to get bored we throw grape seeds towards cars passing by my house. Those were the days.
When the Americans bombed Tripoli, I was still awake doing my homework. It was about midnight. I was busy studying my social studies and we were learning about civilizations. All of a sudden, I heard a loud noise, I thought it was about to rain, a thunderstorm. In the middle of summer? I didn't know, I was naive.
The next day, I went to school as usual. The gate was locked. Dad usually sends me at Gate B. It was locked. We were curious, I wasn't late, was I? Dad decided to drive to the main gate. We found out school was closed for a few weeks due to the bombings. I was surprised and I told dad what I heard last night. We knew the US & Libya can't seem to see eye to eye. But this? Libya aka Axis to Evil...yeah right...(sarcastic). The Malaysian government wanted all the Malaysian citizens to leave Libya if the situation was critical, dad won't be leaving as he was the 2nd man after the ambassador. He has to make sure that the Malaysian students were safe etc. It's not easy being a diplomat! None of us left eventually but this event has been up here in my mind forever. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
What's sad was that, many innocent people died on that day, a Palestine girl died because her house was hit by the bomb. Her younger sister, Kinda was my junior at OCS. We mourned for her & her family.
In some ways, we were lucky that we moved to Gargaresh because the Americans hit the strategic places in Tripoli & our old apartment was very close by to the intended target. We visited the area a few days after the bombings. We were devastated. The area was badly hit. Mom scolded me for picking flowers at the park. How should I know it was dangerous. I was 9, back then!
So this is what I remember about Libya. An experience I will never forget!